The following blog post was first published on Tyndale’s Missions Blog. You can check out the original entry here: http://tyndaleblogs.ca/missions/categories/articles/so-much-more/.
The year is 2011. I slip into the back row of the Intro to University class (then called “Douloi Christou”). This coming spring, I will graduate from my BRE. I have also been commissioned to help Dean Sweetman lead and mentor the other leaders as they provide insights to the incoming frosh. This role provides me with many blessings including new and deeper friendships with the other students all the while continuing to grow into my own developing sense of community awareness and servant leadership. However, there is one additional blessing that I will not see until two full years later.
Fast forward to July 2013. After completing my BRE from Tyndale and subsequently completing a graduate diploma in Peace studies and Theology from another seminary, I find myself at a crossroads. Burnt out from the rigorous of academic life and wishing to acquire new skills, I remember back to 2011 when Tyndale welcomed Sister Sue Mosteller (SOSJ) to talk to the frosh about Imago Dei (the image of God). Sister Sue, herself a long-term L’Arche community member challenged all of us, and in particular me, to see the inherent value in each person. Further compelled by reading Henri Nouwen’s book “In the Name of Jesus” for my undergrad Intro to Leadership course taught by Professor Dickens, I could no longer ignore the constant whisperings in my soul to go join this community. So without much experience and with limited knowledge of exactly what to anticipate: I packed my bags, moved north to Richmond Hill, and began to live life amongst adults with profound developmental disabilities.
What is L’Arche? Upon first glance L’Arche is a group home. A community of adults who are otherwise dependent upon the support of others sometimes for even the most basic of life skills. Yet, upon further exploration L’Arche proves to be so much more. It’s a spiritually enriching experience, an opportunity to grow, and a discipleship program all connected into one lived out and shared reality.
God may have called me to this life, but Tyndale prepared me for this step in my journey. By first learning what community looks like through my years in residence and the deep friendships formed as a result of extra-cirriculars, I was able to make my home at L’Arche. By being challenged in what ministry and servanthood really are through classes and informal interactions, I was able to approach L’Arche as an opportunity for service.
Although I no longer live full time in this community, the deep friendships, passion, and skills I have acquired throughout my journey with the residents will hopefully continue to go on. I still continue to be part of this community and to learn from them in different ways even though now I am back in seminary. By hanging out on Saturdays, helping to prepare a meal, or just going out for coffee with a resident, I seek to continue to invest into their lives while constantly being reminded that I have received so much more from these individuals than I could ever request.
Last month, Coordinator for Community and Global Engagement James Brooks, challenged Tyndale students that our time is really not our own, and that it is so imperative for Christians to give back and invest into their communities. I pray that God may lay it on your heart to reach out to a demographic you have never really worked with before. I guarantee it will tremendously bless your life and challenge you to be stretched and to grow. And for that I am truly grateful.